JEDDAH: Saudi museums and cultural organizations celebrated International Museum Day on Tuesday by showcasing the Kingdom’s heritage and treasures to the world.
As many institutions around the world prepare to reopen after being closed for the past year because of the pandemic, the theme of the global event is “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine.”
In keeping with this, the Saudi Ministry of Culture (MoC) marked Museum Day with a virtual concert at the National Museum in Riyadh, which was live-streamed on the ministry’s YouTube channel. The list of performers included Saudi Opera singer Sawsan Al-Bahiti, oud player and singer Abdullah Saad, cellist Mohammed Alguthmi, pianist Daniele Ciminiello and musicians Elvin and Joe Hodson.
Anyone interested in discovering some of the treasures from the National Museum’s collection can visit nationalmuseum.moc.gov.sa/virtualtour/ to take a virtual tour.
Meanwhile the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) has launched a virtual exhibition titled Wahj: Adornment of the Page. This showcase of the art of illumination and gilding includes 60 examples of various types of Islamic manuscripts that offer insight into this amazing craft.
Rasha Al-Fawaz, head of the Museum Collections Department at the center, told Arab News that what makes the exhibition so special is that it not only displays these precious Islamic manuscripts for the world to see, it also informs and educates visitors about the important features of illumination, and introduces them to some of the most famous calligraphers in Islamic history, highlighting the importance of the aesthetics of illumination and gilding in Islamic art.
“During the Islamic ages, sultans and kings were patrons of calligraphers and illustrators,” said Al-Fawaz. “They provided them with specialized areas to practice their craft, to train, and to teach others.
“This played a significant role in the emergence of distinctive schools of illumination with unique styles that later became renowned, such as the Arab school in Baghdad, the Mughal school in Delhi, the Ottoman school in Istanbul, and the Persian school in Tabriz.
“Master painters dedicated themselves to developing new decorative elements using artistic methods and creative processes that formed the core of their inventiveness. Abstract elements from nature and geometric shapes, such as triangles, derived interweaving patterns and decorative tapestries that reached a distinguished level of precision, balance and color by the 9th and 10th centuries AH.”
Click here to browse the exhibition and view high-resolution images of each manuscript.
One of the oldest exhibits is “Kalial Wa Demnah,” a book of fables believed to be Indian in origin that was translated into Arabic in the eighth century by Abdullah Ibn Al-Muqaffa. Believed to be oldest illuminated copy of the book, the displayed manuscript, once owned by King Faisal, includes 65 colorful and decorative Baghdadi-style images.
Al-Fawaz said that KFCRIS is always keen to offer visitors new and different experiences, and is currently working on a new exhibition, Asfar: the King Faisal Center’s Treasures, which will showcase unique items from the center’s collection of nearly 30,000 manuscripts.